Edible Weeds: Purslane

boston_herbalist_purslanePurslane, with its tear drop-shaped, jade leaves, has carpeted my garden plot. Michael Pollan calls it one of the “most nutritious plants in the world,” and for good reason. Humble purslane, which takes over areas of disturbed soil (like my garden) or cracks in the sidewalk, is an incredible source of nutrients, including amino acids, vitamins A, C, and E, magnesium, calcium, and potassium. This is what especially motivates me though… purslane has one of the highest vegetable concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids, specifically alpha-linoleic acid. Here I am downing pricey fish oil, when all this ALA is popping up for free!

For those interested in herbalism, purslane is cooling and moistening, perfect for those who are hot and dry, loud, ruddy, and with a tendency towards anger. But, in the summer, it’s a great salad herb because we generally all need some cooling down. Herbalist Susun Weed calls purslane a superior nutritive herb for treating depression and strengthening our bones, making it a wonderful herb for women. I would add that this is a great plant for those nourishing their fertility, because vitamin E is an important antioxidant and critical for hormone balancing.

I first noticed in in Turkish markets where I recognized the familiar leaves; I was so delighted to learn that this was food.  Called semizotu in Turkish, baqleh (بقلة) in Arabic, and verdolaga in Spanish, purslane is used all over the world in salads or sauteed. I love it Turkish style, with strained yoghurt, garlic and olive oil (Yoğurtlu Semizotu), or in a Levantine fattoush. The fresh leaves are used in the summer, and the stems pickled for use in the winter. Here are some ideas from Pinterest.

In the picture above I made a cold grain salad of lentils, quinoa, finely chopped butter lettuce and a mix of bitter mesclun greens, some braised amaranth, cucumbers, and purslane. I seasoned it with olive oil, salt and pepper, and could also have added grilled fish, hard boiled eggs, other finely chopped herbs (dill, parsley and cilantro would be nice), etc. A perfect summer lunch!

PS. I love that when I post about plants, I hear on Instagram and on Facebook about all the ways they’re used in your countries and kitchens. Please share any favorite recipes in the comments below!

 

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